Author Archives: The Blueberry Store

About The Blueberry Store

I first opened the Blueberry Store in the beautiful town of Saffron Walden, England in 2002, importing and selling New England interiors, shaker, folk art and americana. Now purely an online store, I still specialise in American country style home decor, crafts and gifts, including my best selling Old Fashioned Milk Paint. Milk paint is the original home-made paint used for centuries, particularly in Colonial times, and often seen in those lovely rich shaker colours. Old Fashioned Milk Paint is the first commercially produced milk paint brand, which I have been importing for ten years. It is completely natural, environmentally friendly, safe and non-toxic, as well as being the most colour durable paint you can get. I also find and restore vintage furniture using the Old Fashioned Milk Paint, which I enjoy sharing with you in this Blog. Hopefully you can get inspired by seeing the beautiful results you can achieve with this lovely paint. I am also developing a series of tutorials to take you through the process step by step - any comments/questions are welcome. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy painting!

Using two colours together.

This beautiful chair was made by Robin of Redwood Chairs, and has been painted in two shades Old Fashioned Milk Paint; Pitch Black over Barn Red. This is a fine example of this process, whereby the top colour is rubbed back in areas to reveal the colour underneath, adding real depth and subtlety.

The chair was then finished with Linseed oil for a hardwearing gloss finish, but similar results could be achieved with tung or hemp oil.

You can see more of Robin’s work on Instagram @redwoodchairs.

Using Extra Bond and Two Colours of Milk Paint.

The second project I wanted share today was a Shaker style pine bedside cabinet, which I have re-painted using two different colours of Old Fashioned Milk Paint, this time Light Cream over Slate, and using two different distressing techniques to allow the darker colour underneath to show through. This is a process often used by crafters and woodworkers, to imitate the effect of different layers of paint being added over time, and the older colours beneath being revealed as the paint gets chipped or rubbed off over the years.

DSC00100 (3)This bedside cabinet already had a high gloss paint finish, so after sanding off, I also took the precaution of adding Extra Bond to the first coat of Slate. When using Extra Bond, you first make up just the amount of milk paint you think you will need for the first coat, and then add equal quantities of Extra Bond. It is then very important to make that first coat nice and thin, to give it a really DSC00099 (2)good ‘grip’. (This is actually always a good idea with the first coat, even when using milk paint on its own). You can see here how it looked after the first coat ….



It needed two more coats of Slate tDSC00114o really give it a good base. Then I decided to apply some Crackle Glaze randomly (not all over)  on the drawer front and the door, before applying two coats of Light Cream. I wanted just these two areas to look much more distressed than the rest of the piece. It worked beautifully.
DSC00115I rubbed it all over with my flexible sanding sponge, paying particular attention to the drawer front and door, to make sure the chipping and crackling was stabilised. Then I went over the corners and edges with sandpaper to distress them by rubbing off the Light Cream to reveal the Slate in those areas as well. I finished with some plain wax on the front and Antiquing Wax on the top and sides.



I love these two colours together – the Slate is actually almost a light Swedish Blue, and goes really well with any lighter shade.

I know, I know, it’s been AGES since my last blog, but to make up for it I have two projects to tell you about today! Both are makeovers of ‘modern’ pine pieces, albeit both are in traditional designs, both of which had already been painted.

In the first project, this corner mirrored bathroom cabinet just needed a new colour following re-decoration of a downstairs cloakroom. It had been previously simply colourwashed in soft grey emulsion, with a light wax finish. In this case I decided no Extra Bond was needed, as I was pretty sure the old wax would have more or less gone, and anyway I wanted a naturally distressed finish if I could get one. And I was absolutely deslighted with the result!

So, I started with a very quick light sanding, and then wen on with the first coat of Old Fashioned milk Paint in Light Cream. This colour is a very subtle ivory,¬†which can either be left as a very clean off-white, or lends itself perfectly to the addition of ‘antiquing’ wax. This is just your usual finishing wax, but with the addition of a colour – usually either brown or gold/bronze, to ‘age’ a paint finish. (If you’re up to challenge, you can have great fun making your own¬†by mixing plain wax with small amounts of acrylic paint, natural dyes or even boot polish etc, to get your own bespoke shade).¬†

So, after a couple of coats of light cream, I was delighted to see very subtle¬†crackling of the milk paint in places. There wasn’t enough of a shine on the previous paint to lift the paint off for a ‘chippy’ effect, but just created these tiny little crackles which I love.¬†These are much smaller and less uniform cracks than the kind you get when using crackle glaze.¬†I then rubbed over tDSC00018he whole surface with my flexible sanding sponge. These are perfect for the finishing Milk Paint before waxing or varnishing – they have¬†the triple¬†benefit of smoothing out any graininess and¬†making the colour really dense, whilst at the same time ensuring no further lifting or cracking takes place (this is essential on really chippy pieces).

Then it was on with the antiquing wax. I love this bit. The bronzy brown wax sank into all those little crackles to bring them out even more, and when it was buffed after 15 minutes, it really looked like something that had warmed and mellowed over time.

With the addition of ¬†a new ceramic knob, it was ready for wall mounting. …….



Recreate New England in the Fall with Mustard and Pitch Black Milk Paint


Well, it feels like Autumn now so I am definitely ready to get into the season with some classic ‘Fall’ colours in Old Fashioned Milk Paint. ¬†I have to confess, Autumn is my favourite season – I love the colours and I guess that goes hand in hand with my love of colonial style.



I found the perfect thing to paint with these two vintage kitchen chairs; they were definitely in need of some tlc, so I thought I would paint one in the ever popular ‘Pitch Black’, and the other in Mustard. I sanded them really well, so there was no shine left on them, but of course that is still no guarantee of adhesion with the milk paint. I decided I would paint the Pitch Black without any ‘Extra Bond’, and the mustard with, to compare how they would turn out. Of course, I know I still had the option of distressing the the Mustard (which I always want to do to some degree), but it would be under my control. The Pitch black would be left as a surprise!


Here are the chairs after two coats, but before any finishing or waxing. Already you can see the black has chipped quite a lot, compared to mustard, which looks almost pristine at this stage. As always, I left the paint to ‘cure’ for a couple of days…..not essential always best I think, to make sure the chipping has finished, and to just let the paint settle.

Then I set about lightly sanding the Mustard chair with a sanding block and medium grade sand paper where I wanted to ‘distress’ it, including just picking around the base of the spindles where you would expect to see it chip over time. I then finished by¬†rubbing it all over with a very fine grade flexible sanding sponge, which is also great for getting into all the nooks and crannies. With the black Chair however, because it had already chipped quite heavily, I really just wanted to preserve that natural process where it was and not try to distress it further. So in that case, I just used the sanding sponge to give it a nice smooth finish. Finally, a coat of finishing wax to seal it and leave a slight sheen (often I use flat matt acrylic varnish but I felt these would look more authentic with a wax finish).

And After….


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And here are the finished pieces. I have to confess, I really love the Mustard. You wouldn’t think so, but it never fails to amaze me how great it looks in a whole host of colour schemes, and, despite being a really rich colour, doesn’t overpower at all.

Now, where are those pumpkin candles…..

Crackle Glazing

I wanted to talk a bit this week about our fabulous Crackle Glaze product. This one is produced by Old Fashioned Milk Paint for use with their paint, but to be honest it works brilliantly with  all sorts of paints. OFMP recommend using it in between the first and second coat of milk paint, But I have found it works just as well over any previous oil or water based paint finish, and then with a final coat of milk paint (or any water based paint) over the top.

For example, I had painted this lovely mirror in Farrow & Ball eggshell (in Lime White) some years ago (see the ‘Before’ Picture). Although there was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t quite the right shade for our new F & B ‘Off White’ walls. But rather than just repaint with a plain colour, I decided a crackle glaze effect would give it a nice Grecian feel. So, I simply cleaned the paintwork and brushed over a coat of Crackle Glaze. It’s best to allow it to dry for a couple of hours before re-painting.

I then finished with a coat of ‘Oyster White’ Old Fashioned Milk Paint. The trick with the final coat of paint however, is to make sure your brush confidently in one direction, ONLY ONCE over each area. Don’t re-brush over the same area, or it won’t crackle.

Then just watch the magic happen. It starts crackling almost immediately, and within half an hours dries hard in the stunning¬†crackled finish. Actually, it is far more stable than the random ‘chipping’ that can happen without the crackle medium in between, and the crackles take on a more ‘sophisticated’ appearance somehow. It doesn’t continue to flake in the same way as it can do when you just milk-paint over old finish. I would still recommend sealing with varnish on items which might get knocked or exposed to moisture, but I didn’t bother with this mirror as it’s in the dining room.

It is difficult to see effect in the photo, but you can see more clearly on the top of the frame (and in the close-up).¬†This effect looks great on all sorts of things…particularly vases, planters, frames and furniture, and is brilliant for giving something a completely new look. Give it a try!¬†


DSC00046Crackle Glaze 1 Crackle Glaze closeup

Stone Effect Planter

I decided to get out in the garden now the sun has come out, and get creative with some plant pots. I have a couple of really lovely heavy terracotta pots that have been around for years, getting a really nice aged look. I could have left them as is, they had taken on a nice green mossy hue which would have worked well in our back garden. But I have just redone the front, and wanted a two matching pots in a ‘terazza’ style. So I decided to paint my two lovely pots to make them look like grey stone, which works in either a contemporary of traditional Italianate style setting.

I started by scubbing the pots clean with a wire brush and water. I then mixed up some Pitch Black Old Fashioned milk paint, and diluted the mixed paint ¬†with Snow white milk paint powder, until I reached a¬†nice dark grey. I did this by mixing up the Pitch Black with warm water as normal, and then just added snow White powder gradually, mixing all the time until I achieved the shade I wanted. As I’ve said before, you really don’t have to be scientific with this kind of project….as long as you mix enough for the job, you can just judge everything by eye – that goes for the shade and the thickness of the paint. In this case the paint could be quite thin as¬†it will¬†absorb quickly (and permanently) into the porous terracotta, so you just need a thin coating. So I just painted this dark grey onto the pot with a large emulsion brush, which took about two minutes, then, after five minutes or so, I wiped it over with a damp cloth to let the terracotta colour slightly show through in places, giving it a translucent appearance.

After about half an hour,  I added some more Snow white to the previously mixed paint, to make it a lighter shade of grey, and slightly thicker. I then painted that over the now dry first coat, then took the damp cloth and wiped it in a circular motion over the newly applied paint. This gave it a slightly uneven, two-tone finish. Once the second coat was dry after about half an hour, I mixed up a tiny amount of pure Snow white, and applied that over the top with a damp cloth in acircular movement, creating a swirly, stone-like finish.

And here’s the result, which took only about an hour and a half in total.¬†This is great way ti update/upcycle the low-cost basic pots you can buy to make them look really classy. Over the next few weeks I will also show you how to achieve marble and granite effects with Old Fashioned Milk Paint, so keep looking!


Mixing with Snow White

Ok, so I’ve recently looked at the different options you can achieve with milk paint, including a solid colour, colourwash and a chippy finish.

This week I thought I would just share a couple more recent projects which show some more Old Fashioned Milk Paint colours, lightened by mixing with Snow White.

By diluting colours in this way, the shades and hues you can achieve from the 20 base colours are almost endless – you can see the possibilities from this¬†colour-chart. Obviously it’s not possible to truly represent paint colour on screen, but it does demostrate the colour versatility. And this really isn’t an exact science; If you want consistency, do measure, but when mixing with Snow White to lighten (or any two colours to achieve even more options), just mix until you like the colour ¬†– it will not change when you paint it on. (Just make sure you have enough for the project as you you may have trouble getting that shade again if you do it by eye rather than measuring).

I recently painted an old Ikea coffee table and a pine bookcase in Driftwood diluted about 50% with Snow White, which results in a lovely grey/taupe shade. This is the perfect colour incidentally for making wood or other materials look like¬†stone (for example turning a cheap planter into a Grecian style lamp base – but that’s for another day!) In both these cases, I put two coats of this diluted Driftwood over a base coat of slate, allowing some of the slate to show through in places. I love these two colours together.¬†DSC00037 (2)DSC00039DSC00041 (2)

Salem Red and Sea Green Distressed Coat Rack

After yesterdays link to the video by 13th Haven, showing how to achieve a chippy finish with milk paint, I thought I would share with you a little project I’ve been working on to similar effect, but this time using two colours.

I’ve just finished recycling this lovely old vintage shelf, turning it into a small coat rack with the addition of some beaded board at the back, and three sturdy iron coat hooks.

It started out with just an off white paint finish – found at the Ardingly Antiques Fair (highly recommended). Unfortunately I ¬†forgot to take ‘before’ pictures (doh), so you’ll just have to take my word on that. I will definitely try to remember that in future! Anyhoo, I couldn’t decide which colour to go with…I definitely wanted milk paint of course, and it kind of felt like it should be Sea Green, but then that is a real favourite of mine! As the name suggests, it’s a bluey green, but it’s such a restful, ‘knocked down’ colour, it just seems to go with everything. So, as it had been painted already, and could either add some Extra Bond for a solid finish, or just let it do its thing. As it was already quite ‘distressed’, I went for the latter. I just thought, to achieved a smooth, solid finish would take too much work ~ the wood itself was quite knocked about. (In my view, if you can’t achieve a pristine finish, go for distressed, but that’s just me).

So, off I went with Sea Green, and yes it did flake quite heavily in places as I wanted. It will normally do this when you milk paint over a previous paint or varnish (thought not always), ¬†but to my surprise, it actually formed a true crackle effect in places, which was a real bonus! I put any crackle glaze on, so it just must have been caused by the kind paint originally used underneath¬†~¬†basically ‘weak over strong’ ~ Lovely! So this was all good, but….I¬†always kind of prefer darker colours showing beneath light ones ~ again this is just personal taste, but I feel that is more striking. So, as the white showing through wasn’t really doing it for me, I decided to add Salem Red over the top. Red goes really well with green, blue or grey in this kind of piece, so I knew it would look good. I could have just let the red dry and chip/flake again, but I went a stage further, and wiped it off in areas when it was still slightly wet. This gave me whole areas of the Sea Green showing through and blending with the red to give a two-tone effect I really like. It also forced the red into some of the crackles.

I then added some new tongue and groove boards to the back, all painted in exactly the same way (without of course the original white paint). It didn’t chip or crackle of course, so I distressed it by wiping, sanding and scraping. DSC00074 low resDSC00081 low resIt just goes to show how good milk paint is at making new look old if you want it to!

I was really pleased with the overall effect, and as I had now gone into the territory of quite deep colours, I thought I would go all the way and seal it with an antiquing wax. This is basically just standard finishing wax that has a brown or sometimes gold colour added which will age the wood further as well as giving the usual waxy sheen.

And here is it! I’m really pleased with it and hope you like it too x

Chippy or Not Chippy?

I have just come across this amazing time-lapse¬†video by a fellow milk-painter/Stockist in the USA, which shows how to achieve a ‘chippy’ finish with milk paint, if you are going for the shabby chic look. This is in total contrast to the deep, rich finish achieved on the kitchen cabinets in my last post, and demonstrates brilliantly the versatility of milk paint.

Basically, there are three options when using milk paint.

First, if you paint it on a porous surface such as bare wood or plaster, for example if you’re making something from new but want to give it rich, heritage or colonial colours with a matt finish, then two or three coats of milk paint is the perfect choice for depth and character. Milk paint is the most durable paint you can find ~ it adheres to porous surfaces like no other, and the colour will never fade. Of course you can always ‘control’ distress it if you want, and put wax, oil or varnish over the top, but be aware that some finishes will give a sheen and may ¬†change the colour slightly.

Secondly, if you want to achieve that same finish on a surface that has already been painted or varnished, you will need to sand it to remove surface sheen, and mix some Extra Bond with the first coat of milk paint to give it adherence.

But, if you want shabby chic, give it a light sanding then just slap it on and see what happens! It is totally unpredictable – you don’t know where it will chip and flake, but for many people that’s the joy in it. Just watch this video and see what I mean! ¬†Here Ryann is using Sweet Pickins#’s Milk Paint, which is made by our own Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company. (Love the company she keeps too!)

Post by 13th Haven.

Using Milk Paint on Kitchen Cabinetry

I have been milk painting pretty constantly since the New Year, both at home and in new and restored products for The Blueberry Store. I am hoping to get some pictures uploaded this weekend, and I PROMISE to be doing that regularly from now on. To be honest my problem is always getting good quality photos to share – I need a new camera, but it’s probably more to do with my poor photography skills! – so that is something I am working on.



In the meantime, I have some great images and posts to share with you from the Old Fashioned Milk Paint’s Facebook page and website, starting with this one from January, featuring ¬†a brand new kitchen.

This is a great example of the richness and beauty of milk paint colours when used as solid colours on new wood (here they have used Lexington Green), particularly in the high end cabinet of this gorgeous kitchen. This is three solid coats, with a low sheen glaze to finish. But this is so easily achieved using this paint, it really is so forgiving and easy to use. You could achieve the same finish painting any small shelf on storage box in bare wood.

Lexington Green Milk Painted Kitchen Un

             Lexington Green Kitchen


Of course, it is so versatile that you can also use it to great effect as a colour wash, especially over a contrasting solid milk paint colour, or get that really distressed look by painting over old paint or varnish, so that it chips and flakes. The possibilities are really endless, and I will be showing you how to use it to achieve all these types of finish right here in my blog.


My New Year’s resolution?… be a better blogger!

I know, I know, it’s been a while. But this is the year that I start blogging regularly, about Milk Paint, how I use it for me and for customers, in my home as well as for The Blueberry Store products. Please do use this ¬†blog to post comments and ask questions about your milk paint projects, whether for furniture makeover, restoration or for use in art. Watch this space!

Old Wooden Trunk

This weekend I’ve been repainting a lovely old wooden chest I found in a second hand shop. It was already in quite a nice ‘shabby’ condition, painted in black but nicely chipped. I debated whether to just polish it up, but there was a tiny bit of filling to do to, so i thought I would repaint it. And I’m glad I did because I have discovered the most gorgeous colour combination of ‘Driftwood’ over ‘Slate’ (all Old Fashioned Milk Paint of course!)

First of all I cleaned it up and rubbed it back a little. Then I gave it two coats of Slate, the first mixed with some Extra Bond, as I wanted a solid colour base with no flaking. Slate is quite a strong blue-grey and I had a hunch it would work well with a buff/brown, so I decided to try Driftwood as a topcoat, rubbed back to show the Slate. Then something quite nice happened – I mixed the Driftwood with just a little too much water so it was thinner than I intended, but when I started painting the almost bronze colourwash over the Slate looked amazing. I did thicken the Driftwood a little more for the main body of the chest, but left the colorwash effect on all the raised panels and edges. (You can achieve the same effect by painting with normal thickness then immediateyl rubbing back gently with a damp cloth).

Here is the result…..I really love this effect and I am now trying out a similar approach using Driftwood mixed with 50% Snow White, which takes it to a lovely taupe, almost like a Farrow and Ball ‘Old White’.

Driftwood Colourwash over two coats of Slate

Driftwood Colourwash over two coats of Slate

Busy Painting….

DSC00969Last week I received huge shipment from Old Fashioned Milk Paint, including most of their finishing products, most of which I hadn’t tried before. So I have been busy painting all weekend on and off, mainly lovely pieces I found at the Ardingly Antiques Fair a couple of weeks ago.

This little table started of as a (very grubby!) chalky pink, with a fabulous zinc top. I decided to try some Lexington Green mixed with Snow White, which makes a really gorgeous duck egg bluey green. I wasn’t sure how well it would cover the existing paint, but decided to take a risk and paint it straight over the pink with no Extra Bond. I kind of thought it would go a bit chippy, which would be good as the pink would show through and two colours would work well together. Well, I wasn’t wrong and it certainly chipped and flaked! I left it a couple of days to make sure it had finished ‘chipping’ and then finished it off with our new Daddy Vans finishing Wax (scented with sweet orange oil, but that’s just a bonus). And here’s the result. I think it looks really pretty, and very ‘distressed’. My only issue now is how to clean up the zinc a little (although I think the patchiness adds to the charm). Any ideas would be welcome.

The Blueberry Store



Milk Paint is an ancient organic paint made using basic, natural ingredients; milk protein (casein), lime, clay, and earth pigments such as ochre, umber, iron oxide, lampblack, etc. It makes the most colour-durable finish available, and is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and food safe, containing no chemicals, preservatives, fungicides, hydrocarbons or any other petroleum derivatives. Home-made Milk Paint has been around for centuries, and is probably the earliest form of paint available. It was heavily used by settlers in North America, and has come to epitomise the character and style of Early American and Colonial architecture and interiors. Now commercially available, it arrives in powder form to be mixed with water, and can be madeup in small or large batches.

So, as well as being perfect renovation projects where authenticity is really important, it also happens to be very tough and durable (the colour never fades), is totally safe for children and pets, and is SO easy and fun to work with (on bare wood it is self priming). By its very nature you can’t really go wrong – and you can mix up as much or as little as you need ~ the colour doesn’t change. So if it is too thin, add some more powder, too thick add some more water, and give it another coat. Experimentation is encouraged!

I’ve had a lot of fun with it over the years, and it can be used to restore or recycle older pieces of furniture and give them a new lease of life. But is also by wood-workers and turners on brand new or hand-made furniture to give it age and character. In that case it is totally self priming and couldn’t be easier to use. On older pieces, which may have layers of wax, varnish or old paint, if you want it to bond and give a solid cover you will probably need to mix it with ‘Extra Bond’. But many people deliberately choose not to, as they like the way it peels and flakes in patches to give it a chippy, aged look. The ‘self-distressed’ piece can then be finished with wax, varnish or oil in the normal way to ‘set’ it. (Many oils and waxes will change the colour slightly and give it a sheen. If you want a completely matt finish and no colour change then choose a matt acryclic varnish).

I will be going into a lot more detail about the various techniques, finishes and products over the coming weeks, and will be putting together some detailed tutorials and videos to help you. I also have a few little projects on the go which I can share along the way ~ will be busy painting this weekend so hopefully some before and after pictures to upload soon.

In the meantime, why not buy some paint, a brush and have a go! Each pack comes with full mixing instructions so you can’t go far wrong.

Where to Start?

Well, this my first venture into the world of ‘blogging’, and I must admit to being slightly scared! Writing about what I do doesn’t come naturally, but in the last ten years or so, I have received more and more interest the Old Fashioned Milk Paint that I sell in my shop, The Blueberry Store, from an increasingly wide range of sources.

From a purely personal point of view, I LOVE this product, and have spent a great deal of time playing with it in my own furniture makeover projects over the years, as well as making pieces for the Blueberry Store. But recently its popularity has surged, along with the increasing interest in restoring or ‘upcycling’ (horrible word!!) furniture, whether it’s your own or something found at a flea market, or in a charity shop. But there is also a growing interest among crafters, woodworkers and artists, as this fantastic paint has so many different applications. But there is a lot of confusion out there. So, as I have now made the tough decision to close my ‘bricks & mortar’ store and focus purely on my online business, hopefully I will now have time to share some of my own experiences with milk paint, from the past and as they happen!